Friday, September 29, 2023

All she wrote...


C-FXZK soaks in the Northern Lights
Our 2023 season at Big Hook is officially a wrap!

    It was an outstanding one by all measures - probably my favorite to date. But with fall in the air, one needs to know when to say “when,” and the time has most certainly come.

    We were in the full throws of autumn when Ripp and I departed Central Lake for Winnipeg last week. The leaves were peaking, birds heavy into their migration, and the fish chomping away trying to put on a few more ounces each before the colder months really set in.

    I was fortunate to spend the last week with just the dog and I as the only inhabitants of Opasquia Park – at least the only (semi) domesticated ones. We ticked away at some projects, got a lot of overdue office work done, and snuck in some fishing for ourselves too.

The final fish of 2023

With the declining water temps, the fish had moved a little shallower (8 – 12’) but continued to be voracious. We caught supper in no time – one evening we never left the dock!

    High winds kept me from casting my fly rod for pike, but our final guests of the year reported continued fast action with at least a few trophies out of Central and West Lakes. A perch colored spinner bait was their hot lure.

    Before Maria and Peter departed, we ticked of several bigger projects including leveling and straightening the foundation piers at Burnt Lake and constructed a new motor shed at Central.

    The business of closing down all the camps is always a little somber, but freshly painted floors and heaps of cut firewood will be waiting for our season opener in 8 short months.

    I will look to send out our annual holiday card in the coming months, but hope to do a bit of a season recap by the numbers (fish caught, lbs of potatoes consumed, beers crushed, etc…). Please let me know if you / your group has any special stories that should be included. Please also send me any pics that
you’d care to share – we love seeing them!
    Speaking of, we got a big batch of historical photos from one of our longtime guests now into their 4th generation of Big Hook’ers. Thanks so much, Matt, for sending in those gems.

Central Lake 1986
     With the season officially wrapped up, I want to extend my most sincere thanks to everyone who came to visit us this year. It was a great summer, and, I for one, am already looking forward to next!

    Speaking of, our calendar is down to just a handful of open weeks. If you are thinking of a trip to Big Hook, please reach out asap so we can be sure to get you on the calendar. Enjoy the colder months everyone!

Till next year Big Hook,


Ripp helps lookout for geese

Everyone is hungry!

Beautiful fall

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Where does the time go...

Where does the time go…

    It’s easy to fall into a groove up at Big Hook: fish, eat, sleep, repeat… For our guests, the weeks are almost always too short. For our staff, it’s the same story with the whole summer. We have just a few precious weeks of our season to go. Boy it’s a magnificent time to be up here, though – we will savor it.

    The weather has been near perfect. Highs in the mid-70’s and lows in the upper 50’s have meant comfortable weather on the water and about the best sleeping conditions in the evening that one could ask for. Our days are getting noticeably shorter with real darkness setting in around 10pm now. The stars here never disappoint – they are as vivid and bold as I have seen anywhere. We’ve gotten a few glimpses of the northern lights too.

    We’ve been fortunate to have a few great family groups in recent weeks – it’s so fun watching kids getting HOOKED on fishing and the outdoors. And, often times, they catch the biggest fish of the trip!

    Speaking of fishing: it has been great!

    I have had the chance to get out on the water quite a bit the past two weeks. We hosted Troy Lindner and a production of his show, The Canadian Experience, last week. We fished lots and had an all-around spectacular time. The episode will air this spring and should be available on the Sportsman Channel, The World Fishing Network, and YouTube. I will look to get more details in time for our holiday mailer and make sure to post a head up on our social platforms too.

    We banged up on the walleye for sure and boated some nice pike also. Most of the walleye were caught snap jigging 1/4 – 3/8 oz jig heads with 3” swimbait tails – orange, purple, and perch colors were particularly productive.

    For the northern, a white Bucktail spinner was the favourite, and definitely got lots of attention; the skirt on his first was cut so short from all the pike in the first two days that it definitely would have been sent home from Catholic School. As a few other guests have noted, pike were not as interested as usual for top water lures for reasons unknown.

    Other guests had great luck with spoons like 5 of Diamonds and Johnson silver minnows in Red / White and Gold.

    Several 40” ‘ers have been reported including the last pike that Troy and I caught which was right at the mark.

    We did get a full, and much needed, day of rain Wednesday – I am estimating a full 2 inches, although a more precise measurement is not available due to a dog vs. rain gauge fight here at Central. It turns our Ripp still has some puppy in him. The rain brought the water levels up some, but they are still low. It seems that most of it soaked right up in the soil – it was getting pretty dry around here previously.

    We’ll hope for some more soon (just not during your stay for our customers with a remaining 2023 reservation). Hopefully that will give me the chance to get out one more update before we wrap up our season.

    It’s crazy thinking about 2024 already, but that calendar is filling up fast. Now’s the time to start thinking about Big Hook ’24. Please reach out by phone or email if you have any questions or would like to make a reservation.

    Thanks so much and happy August everyone!

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Full Swing...

    Summer is definitely in full swing up at Big Hook: The temps (both lake and air) are comfortably warm. The springtime insects have moderated – I can’t remember the last time I put on bug spray. Weed beds are developing and starting to reach the surface in areas. AND, the fish tallies are REALLY adding up.

South Lake Tank!
    Since our last report, guests have boated dozens of trophy fish, including many pike over 40” and our first walleye over 30” on the year.

    That tank, pictured here, was caught on a 2” rainbow colored Hot’n Tot trolled over a gentle rise at South Lake.

   First time guest, Sam, boated this beauty 42.5” pike on a Mepp’s Giant Killer at West Lake. The same group boated more than a half dozen other trophies with several walleye in the upper 20's and pike right at the 40" mark. 

    Guests across our locations have noted the mayfly hatch is already on the tail end of the event. It’s the earliest I’ve ever witnessed the phenomena. It apparently didn’t slow down fishing much. The outgoing group at Southwest, a couple from Minnesota, caught more than 3000 fish during their two week stay. For those that don’t want to get out their calculators, that’s an average of more than 100 fish / person every day for 14 days (and I know they enjoyed plenty of time off the water too)!

West Lake 42.5"
    With the mayflies having come and gone, the fish should be ravenous the next few weeks as they have expanded their bellies and need to refill. We’re sure to get into mid-summer patterns too, with walleye schooled up on deeper reefs and northern staking out their territory around the weed beds.

    I’ve gotten lots of questions about the wildfire smoke up here. We’re very fortunate to have had just 1 or 2 semi-smokey days. The smoke from the big fires out west gets swept down to the Great Lakes region and Midwest by the jet stream, so really doesn’t affect us. There are a few smaller fires closer to Red Lake and Sioux Lookout that has made for some hazy days further to our south but none of that has drifted up here yet. Unfortunately, all reports are that the situation is much worse for many of our guests back home, south of the border. Come up to Big Hook and get some fresh air!

    I can’t believe we’re staring down July already. Happy Canada Day to all the locals and happy 4th of July for all our American friends. ALSO, a huge thanks to our guests that sent in photos from their trip!

Till next time,


Central Lake Gator!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Off to the races for 2023...

    A fond hello to all from Big Hook Wilderness Camps in Opasquia Provincial Park for our inaugural update / post of the 2023 season. 

    While the calendar suggests summer just started a few days ago, it seems like we’ve had a season’s worth of fun and excitement in just the 4 short weeks since we arrived. 
Ryan, Ripp, and our 30th fish...
    Camp dog, Ripp, and I made Central Lake on May 14th – about two days after the ice out. Camp manager, Maria, and our new pilot, mechanic, jack of all trades, and finder of things that Maria and I have misplaced, Peter, arrived the next day. 
    We found all the camps in good repair and quickly got to the business of getting all the cabins open and boats rigged – our first guests arrived less than a week later on May 21. 

    Fortunately, these fishermen were targeting Northern Pike almost exclusively. The Walleye were still finishing their spawn, and as such, pretty finicky. At Central Lake, the Northern fishing was off the charts, however. Guests in that group boated every length of fish on the tape measure, they said, right on up through a 42”. Their only complaint was sore arms and shoulders from reeling in so many. We helped soothe these woes with the inaugural sauna / lake plunge combo. 

    Guests reported the Northern were going hard after top water baits and congregated wherever there was moving water. Their hottest lure was a blue and white Jitterbug. By the end of the week, the Walleye emerged from their post spawn lull and the Walleye fishing has been WHITE HOT ever since. Several groups reported catches of hundreds of fish per day – the type of fishing where you can’t even get your jig to the bottom before you’ve tied into another. 
All that was left of my jig...

    I got out for a short bit myself last night and boated 30 fish in 30 minutes. What was left of my 3/8 oz jig pictured here. 

 In addition to the standard jig and twister tail combo, guests were having great success with size 2 – 3 Mepps spinners and mid range Husky Jerks. 

    Guests and staff last week bore witness one other spectacle: a lightning strike started a small wildfire that quickly grew to nearly 30,000 acres smack dab in the middle of Opasquia Park. Fortunately, we got a moderate amount of rain just as the fire was transitioning from a wonder to a worry. It was tamped down almost entirely by the initial precip, and should be out completly now – the time to write this was afforded by the inch of rain we got overnight last night and is lingering into this morning, grounding our plane for the time being. 

The Opasquia Wildfire.
    I haven’t received any guest fish photos yet – perhaps another result of the sore muscles noted above. If you’re fresh off a trip to Big Hook, please email your photos to or post them to our blog, Facebook, or Instagram account (#bighookcamps). 

    It’s been a great start to the season and we’re looking forward to the rest of the summer – it’s going too fast already. 

    If you’re still on the fence about a last minute trip in 2023, we have a few sporadic openings and are now starting to take reservations for early season 2024.
A memorial gathering for Tom Brotherston in 
Sandy Lake, complete with fish fry. 

 Best to all and thanks for reading, 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

My favorite time at Big Hook...

    People often as what is my favorite time to be at Big Hook. While each month has its charm, the simple answer for me is late August / early September.

    The weather the past few weeks has been ideal. Comfortably warm days with just the slightest nip in the air at night that makes pulling over a blanket feel oh’ so good. The mosquitos have gone from the worst I ever remember in June to practically nonexistent. The longer nights often lead to some fantastic northern lights displays (as captured by last week’s guests at Burnt Lake). And, the fishing is outstanding!

Northern Lights at Burnt Lake

    Walleyes seem to be everywhere with several camps reporting numerous trophy catches. West lake’s largest for the week topped out at 28” and their catch count was in the “hundreds”. Interestingly West was finding them shallower than other reports, in about 8 feet of water. They hauled in several big pike too with 45 breaching the 30” mark and 3 north of 40”.

    South had a remarkable week also. Strict walleye fishermen, focused on big fish, they found them - with 31 fish over 25”! Pictures are suspiciously absent, but I do believe them. They know the lake well and were fishing hard. Checking out the brag sheet at South there have been a
Central Lake 42.5"
few other 28-29” fish caught and released since my last report. The reputation there for BIG walleye is well deserved.

    Most reports, save last week’s at West, has the walleye in the 15-20’ depths. I verified this myself yesterday, sneaking in a few hours on the water at Central before our fish fry. 18’ was the magic depth for me. Most folks are employing the standard jigs and crank baits, although a few fisherfolk did very well using crawler harnesses also.

    Some BIG pike are being caught too with top water action still in full swing. This dandy 42” was caught and released at Central Lake by a first-time visitor. Her dad claims some credit, though, “guiding” her to it.

  There’s another new employee at Big Hook. “Ripp” has gotten his sea legs under him and should prove to be an excellent fishing companion for years to come. He is training to be an avalanche rescue dog in the wintertime and will be on bear and swim patrol at Big Hook all summer. Lucky dog. Lucky Ryan.


   It’s hard to believe there’s only a few more weeks left in our season up here. Late season guests should continue to enjoy great weather and great fishing. We have a good number of openings for August 2023. Give us a call or email if you’d like to do the same next year! In the meantime, we’ll savor this magical time of year up here. Fall will be here before we know it.

Happy fishing everyone,


Friday, August 5, 2022

Opasquia Alligators...

Greetings all, 

 A rainy day in Opasquia Provincial Park has left me with a few minutes to post an update on all things Big Hook. 

There has certainly been a hint of fall in the air with some cool temps, darker nights, and a few yellow leaves starting to appear. Football on TV last night added to the aura. 

The fish seem to still be all about summer, however. Northern Pike action has been fast and furious with LOTS of trophy pike being boated – occasionally at the same time! 

The pair below was caught by a father / son duo at Central Lake. Apparently, there was some discussion about who needed the net more urgently. Both fish were boated, photo’d, and released to be caught again. 

Various top-water presentations continue to be favored although many lunkers are also being picked up trolling for walleye. Big fish seem to be everywhere. 
The walleye bite has been great too. Reportedly the fish have been a bit scattered but very willing biters. I expect they will school up soon and continue to dive a little deeper as it seems one more bout of summer is inevitable (and welcome) before fall really takes root. 

The Big Hook team has been busy with projects, the water has finally receded enough for us to make some dock crib repairs from damage leftover from ice out. Dan and Maria have also perfected their outhouse hole technique – churning out excavations in record time. 

We added one more employee in July. Maria’s dog Luna came in with her father for a visit and is taking to her summer home quite well. We’ve got to do something about her sleeping on the job, however. 

For those who have never been to Big Hook in the late summer, it’s a must do at some point. We’re really looking forward to those deep, schooled walleye feeding heavily before the turnover and ravenous pike who’s metabolism is at its peak. Add to it some crackling woodstoves, star gazing, and maybe even a glimpse of the northern lights, it is a magical time to be up here. 

Happy August everyone, Ryan

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Summer is in Full Swing!


It’s prime time summer at Big Hook right now. Warm, sunny summer days have been busy churning out biomass on the land and in the lake. Our lawn mower (Pilot Dan) has been busy taming the lawns and keeping the bush from over taking. In the water, weed beds and cabbage are fully developed and the Pike have been staking their claim in this habitat. They have been downright territorial defending this turf smacking anything that makes a splash.

Moonrise over Central
Last week’s group at Cocos went hard after them and boated more than a dozen trophy sized fish including several that were north of the 40” mark. Their lure of choice were red and white or silver spoons tipped with a 3” tail.

 The mayfly hatch has come and gone, although it was a good 7-10 days later than usual up here. The hatch at Central was not as sudden and prolific as most years, more of a tapered, gradual affair. The walleye fishing here didn’t slow down a bit. A few of the outposts reported bigger hatches that did impact the walleye fishing some. More current reports are that the walleye bite is back in full swing as the fish try to refill their bellies once again.

37.5" While Working on Dinner
 South and West Lake fishermen were able to boat several trophy Walleye this week. Including a 29” on a top water lure and a few in the mid 20’s with Rat-L-Traps.

 Water temps are in the low 70’s and the water levels are coming down substantially (3’ or more) which should finally allow us to get in the water and make some crib repairs from ice out damage this spring.

 With all that water flowing out, Central Lake fishermen have reported great fishing above Central’s outlet. I’d expect the same at the inlets and outlets of all our locations.

It’s hard to believe how short the summer season is up here, already staring down the second half of July. Like the fish, animals, and plants, we’ll enjoy it while it lasts!

 Good fishing everyone,